Compiled by: Jack Foley
Q. First film as a director, how daunting was it, and
how much of a job that you couldn't refuse?
A. Daunting... the only daunting thing was making the
decision to direct, that did scare me a little, thinking am I
ready to bare myself to the world? But once I made the decision,
I enjoyed every day of it.
But it was something that Guy [Ritchie] was meant to do, and when
he decided not to direct it, just the idea of handing it over
to somebody else didn't really add up in my mind. And I thought,
they'd probably screw it up, so I'd rather screw it up myself.
Q. Has the film turned out better than even you would
have dared hope?
A. It's the movie I set out to make; it's the positive
reaction that's surprised me. You never know what people are going
to like and how people are going to react to what you do, and
it's more nervous when you're proud of something and you know
it works in your mind. So it makes you more vulnerable to then
listen to people's opinons, because you just hope that they will
feel the same way.
Q. We have a certain expectation, in stylistc terms,
of British gangster films which you, as a producer, were partly
responsible for creating. As a director, this film is a very,
very stylish film, with shades of Norman Jewison. Did you try
and go in for a more American feel, or try not to be Lock, Stock...?
A. I was going for a more cinematic feel and I think
people associate that with American, which isn't the case. I mean,
every country can do movies which fill the screen, but Americans
do it more often.
Q. Were there films that you were mentally referencing,
such as The Thomas Crown Affair maybe?
A. No, The Thomas Crown Affair wasn't... I mean my film
knowledge is pretty lame, so it wouldn't be Norman Jewison, because
I'm sure he's good, but he was no influence whatsoever on me.
Michael Mann, De Palma... visually, he moves the camera in a very,
very beautiful manner, and I think Mann makes sure of the lighting;
I mean, LA is probably one of the ugliest cities in the world,
and Heat made LA look beautiful. So I thought we should be able
to beat the look of Heat, because we've got London, and it's such
a beautiful city, so let's photograph it in a way that it deserves.
So stylistically, they were the two biggest influences, and I
also think they understood the balance between style over content,
whereas I think other film-makers go more for being stylish and
forget to tell the story first and then underpin it.
Q. Did you ration the violence? Did you hold back? How
did you handle it?
A. I wanted the violence to be realistic. I think Lock
Stock and Snatch did a kind of cartoon aspect to it, where it
was there but it was, dare I say it, fun. I wanted this to have
more of a conscience, and for it to fit in with the movie and
again be part of the story, not a talking point. Obviously it
is, but I don't think this is the sort of film that kids will
watch thinking 'oh, violence is cool, let's get an iron on a chest'
- at least I hope that doesn't happen - but I think other films
glamourise it in a way which does maybe bring about bad reactions
or results. It was a conscious decision not to make a gory film,
and we've got the 15 certificate as well, which is a new feeling
Q. What was it in Daniel's work that suggested him for
DANIEL: You saw a cut-out of me, didn't you?
A. No, it was your suit. No, I went to watch
Road to Perdition in LA, in this new cinema, and there was a mannequin
of Daniel and the suit he wore in it. Actually, the thing that
I really saw Daniel in was a short film he did, which I can't
remember the name of right now, about four years ago, and I liked
the idea of him for Snatch. But Daniel's the sort of actor, I've
never seen him give a bad performance, which, as a director, is
quite a promising start.
And Daniel had... it's a very brave actor who is prepared to do
what looks like nothing on screen. There are times when everyone
else is being quite colourful around you, and there are some actors
who think screw this and start showing off, and Daniel didn't
- well not on camera. And that worked. So when I met Daniel, I
just knew he would be perfect for the role. It's an instinctive
thing, when you meet someone, I've always known, as a director
and producer, probably within the first 30 seconds of meeting
someone, whether they have got the part. Normally, when you get
them to read, it's just a confirmation, and Daniel didn't even
have to read for it.
Q. You mentioned that filming
in London was a key part of the filming process, but how easy
was it to film in? Did you have to battle red tape?
A. You do, but it's definitely easier than it was....
I mean, I think it was American Werewolf in London that screwed
it for everyone and landed quite a few people in Piccadilly Circus,
and then the next thing there were buses and the whole thing got
shut down for 24 hours. But I think it's got much easier. We did
have problems, we were going to film the shooting scene, with
Lucky, in Primrose Hill, but we couldn't get permission to film
there, and thank God, because when I saw Greenwich, I thought,
well, I wouldn't want to go to Primrose Hill. We found it pretty
easy. Some councils are better than others, but we chose most
of our locations in film-friendly council areas.
Q. What movies have influence you creatively?
A. The two biggest things, which really got it kick-started,
were Star Wars and then Raiders of the Lost Ark, which confirmed
that this is what I wanted to do as a career. I just like being
entertained when I go to the cinema; give me a big thing of popcorn
and a Coca-Cola and I'm happy, so long as I'm not... I mean Daniel
makes a lot of films which, quite frankly, I don't see. I haven't
seen The Mother, which I'm sure is excellent, but I did see Tomb
Raider, which probably sums me up. So anything that's entertaining
and good, but I obviously love, as I say, De Palma and Mann, Spielberg,
Lucas, Ridley Scott, Guy, obviously. People go to the cinema to
be entertained and to escape, and that's what I want to carry
on trying to do.
Q. Women don't feature very strongly in your films, Matthew,
and I wondered why that was?
A. We're all mysoginists! Hollywood has the knack of...
you could be on a submarine and suddenly they'll figure out a
way of getting a woman onto it, when there apparently aren't any!
In the world that we depict, I mean we've got girls in this one,
at least, Sasha and Tammy, so that's two more than usual.
If there's a role for a girl, I'll put them in, but I refuse to
create... I mean, in Lock, Stock we did have a 25-minute character
we cut out, which was a girl, and we put it in purely because
Hollywood was saying 'you need a love interest'. And then luckily,
we had final cut, and I said to Guy this does not work, it's not
what this movie is about, and that's why I think the film has
done well, because we've always tried to stay true to the subject
Q. In the wake of Lock, Stock and Snatch, have you ever
had any feedback from the fraternity you're depicting?
A. No. I wouldn't want it. Guy probably did, but that's
not my world.
Q. Was it very difficult to get hold of Colm Meaney for
the role, considering he seems to be one of the busiest actors
working today? Or was it written specifically with him in mind?
A. Getting Colm, the hardest thing to get any actor is
not usually getting past their work schedule, but getting past
their agent. Once we finally convinced the agent to give him the
script, it worked out very quickly. It's one of those scripts
when people read it, they responded well. But the reason they
were holding back, probably, was down to me. If I'd called as
a producer, they would have passed it on straight away, probably,
but as a director, it suddenly became much more of a risky proposition.
Agents don't like to put any risky decisions, in case they lose
their client as a result.
Q. Are you going to carry on directing?
A. Yes, I do want to carry on directing. I'm hoping this
film will be successful enough to warrant that, and I thoroughly
enjoyed it. It's a stepping stone in terms of the films I want
to make, which are big action proper movies, in my mind. So I
hope this is the beginning.